marxism and imperialism

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at
Sun Jan 22 10:09:40 MST 1995

Things have been quiet here lately...

I thought I'd try to make use of the collective resources of this list to
ask a few questions about marxism and imperialism, the world
market, globalization postcoloniality... whatever.  This hasn't come up
much as a topic for discussion here.  Rakesh posted a whole number of
sources to the postcolonial list, but as I had to leave that list, I
don't know if you received much feedback.

As a way of getting into the topic, I've just read Anthony Brewer's
_Marxist Theories of Imperialism: A Critical Survey_, and I have a couple
of questions as a result:

i.  Brewer seems to think that no argument from underconsumption holds up
in any way, shape or form.  This seems to be going too far, especially as
so much of the discourse of multinational expansion is about the search
for new markets.

ii.  Brewer also seems to want to knock dependency theories on the
head--in the terms of the dichotomy he himself presents, he seems more
sympathetic to a "classical marxist" position of potential globalization
of capitalism, rather than the "development of underdevelopment" as a
permanent and necessary part of a capitalist world system.  Maybe because
my own focus is on Latin America, and thus at least in part the Spanish
empire there, I find this assurance harder to take.

iii.  Most astonishingly, although he mentions political determinants to
a fair degree, Brewer makes almost no mention at all of cultural factors
in imperialism, let alone in neo-imperialism or postcolonialism.  I find
it amazing that he can think of communication technology etc. only in
terms of the transfer of commodities or capital, rather than itself
commodified and with its own specific effect (Hollywood, rock music etc.).

Any thoughts?


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at


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